Cinema

Alice Through the Looking Glass: Nothing new

Helena Bonham Carter in Alice Through The Looking Glass

Helena Bonham Carter in Alice Through The Looking Glass  

A pointless sequel to a franchise which wasn’t loved much, makes the film a tedious watch.

Alice through the Looking Glass begins well. We are thrown into scenes of Alice, like a valiant captain, guiding a ship through a stormy night. She is already in an adventure. And we see the glimpses of the strength of her character, her presence of mind and courage that helps her lead the ship return to home safe. But home is where the heart is.

When we see Alice back in her town, in the familiarity of home and the superficial high-society parties, we see her restlessness. The stiff noblemen laugh at her attempts at being a ship captain. Owing to the fledgling financial fortunes of her family, she is given the option of choosing either the ship or their house. Her mother reminds her of the practical needs of the house. Alice tells her she doesn't want to end up like her.

We feel the suffocation and the dilemma of a girl who belongs out in the world. The film creates the right atmosphere for us to want to tumble down the rabbit hole, one more time. In this case, it's a mirror that is the portal to Wonderland. She is greeted back by her old friends: Tweedledee, Tweedledum, Absolem, Bayard, the White Queen and others. But where is the Mad Hatter, Alice’s best buddy?



Genre: Adventure/Fantasy
Director: James Bobin
Cast:Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman, Rhys Ifans
Plot:Alice returns to the whimsical world of Wonderland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter.


Turns out Mad Hatter has gone into depression after he made a revelation about his family, who has been presumed to be dead until then. Till this point, the film plays out the oldest trope of fantasy and it plays it well. Then the film introduces the artifice of time travel in order to give us a world that is different from what we have already seen in the prequel, Alice in Wonderland. But it isn’t able to do a lot with a device that has been used so much — that of manipulating the past to make a specific change in the present. So we don’t get impressed easily, unless something radically imaginative is given to us.

Be that as it may, the time travel here isn’t terribly imaginative. It is enjoyable in parts and how can it not be when you have actors like Johnny Depp, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (The Red Queen)? Cohen’s playing time itself reminded me of his trouble-making, goofball policeman in Hugo.

There is a funny scene between Depp and Cohen when the former playfully puns on the latter’s name. The characters are mildly engaging. There is a great touch or two. It’s fascinating, for instance, that a deep-rooted malice could have its roots in something as seemingly innocent as lying about tart crumbs under your sibling’s bed that happened many years ago.

The film would have benefited if it has emphasised more on this dark, Gothic side of a childhood fairy tale rather than try to bowl us over with overdone CGI. The super-annoying 3D doesn’t help either. Like countless other Hollywood films, Alice Through the Looking Glass ends up being another pointless sequel to a franchise that wasn’t loved that much anyway.

The overt attempts of feminist touches come across as manufactured. The reconciliation in the end too isn’t good enough. At least Alice in Wonderland had Tim Burton’s visual artistry. This one isn’t remotely interesting in that regard, even if watched with a magnifying glass.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 12:44:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Alice-Through-the-Looking-Glass-Nothing-new/article14342475.ece

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